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Copper out to bring O'Neill yard in from the cold; LINGFIELD TODAY.

CLOUDY COPPER appears to have a perfect opportunity to end Jonjo O'Neill's dry spell when facing four opponents in the 3m novice chase (1.40).

O'Neill made a great start to the season, to the extent there was plenty of talk about his prospects of winning a first trainers' title, but he hit a slump at the end of 2014 and is without a winner since November 19. however, the well-regarded Cloudy Copper could stop the rot in the hands of Tony McCoy.

The form of the eight-year-old's chase debut second at Uttoxeter has stood up with winner Top Totti running creditably in third behind Ptit Zig in the Grade 2 BetBright Novices' Chase, registered as the Dipper, at Cheltenham last week.

Romeo Americo is among Cloudy Copper's rivals and Seamus Mullins said: "he's progressing and i think he'll improve for the longer trip, but whether he's good enough to win is another thing."

Pam Sly saddles Iconic Rose, who makes her chase debut. While hopeful of a good run, the trainer is realistic in her aspirations and said: "She's not run over fences before but she's a nice little jumper. She'll cope with the heavy ground and we should run into a place i hope."

The card also features the return of Johney Foley in the 2m7f novice hurdle (1.10). The 11-year-old will be having his first start over hurdles some 1,750 days after his bumper debut for Sarah humphrey when second at Plumpton.

explaining an absence that is not far short of five years, humphrey's husband Tony said: "he's had a couple of problems and the owner has been very patient."

expectations are understandably low, and humphrey added: "it will be nice to get him back on the racetrack. As long as he finishes and comes back sound, we and the owner will be thrilled."

Testing conditions will be the order of the day, with the ground heavy. Clerk of the course ed Arkell said: "We had 9.4mm of rain on Saturday, but i'd say it's not as bad as it has been this season.

"We had a dryish spell over Christmas and the new year, which helped the situation, and there's still a good cover of grass."

David Baxter VVLINGFIELD card, page 18

CAPTION(S):

Cloudy Copper: form of the eight-year-old's chase debut was franked by Top Totti in a Grade 2 at Cheltenham

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jan 5, 2015
Words:400
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